On the occasion of International Women’s Day, the European Parliamentary Research Service published a report with important statistical data that illustrates the situation of European women. On 13 and 14 March, the data will be central to the debate on the motion for the resolution Equality between women and men in the European Union in 2014-2015, put forward by the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (FEMM).
The report invites the E.U. government to put gender equality at the top of its own political agenda, primarily by promoting female representation in all decision-making processes and closing the wage gap. Recently, the European Parliament adopted specific resolutions regarding women, on the work-life balance (2016), the gender wage gap (2015) as well as that of the digital industry (2016), but there is still a long way to go.
The labor market
Gender dynamics have always shaped the European labor markets, along with social protection programs, which sometimes impede access to the labor market or demonstrate how the participation rate is inversely proportional to the fertility rate — 1.5 children per woman in the E.U. A situation that has intensified in these recent times of economic and financial crisis.
In the last two decades, there has been a continuous increase in the female workforce: currently, the employment rate for women in the E.U. aged between 20 and 64 years is, on average, 64.3 percent. But the picture becomes more complicated when we break this down to look at education levels. Only 42.8 percent of women with primary-level education are employed; Portugal has the highest number (42 percent), while Lithuania has the lowest (3 percent).